If this is the first time you’ll be traveling overseas, you can expect a little of the unexpected. A big part of the fun of travel is what you learn and discover along the way. However, the fun stops pretty quickly when you step on cultural toes, break the law or end up in financial trouble because you were unaware of local customs or regulations. Here are 7 things every American needs to know before crossing the pond:
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1. Bring Cash
Of course, carrying a fat wallet might draw the wrong sort of attention. However, if you go to a foreign city or town expecting debit and credit services at local markets, you’re likely to be disappointed, and quite possibly hungry with no chance of buying food. Do your research in advance to find out how the locals pay for food and services.
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2. Buy the Guide/Language Books Before You Arrive
Tourist oriented destinations might anticipate travelers stopping at local bookshops for maps, city guides and language translation books. Don’t presume this to be true of all places. Arriving prepared, especially with a book to help you be understood by others that don’t speak English, is priceless.
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3. Local Customs Don’t Always Make Sense, but Respect Them Anyways
We might think it strange that pointing our feet at someone, chewing gum or taking someone’s picture without consent is highly offensive or disrespectful in certain cultures. Hand gestures like ‘OK’ or thumbs up are also considered provocative in some places. Because something doesn’t offend us doesn’t change the fact that it offends others. Try to be sensitive to local social culture and you’re more likely to have a positive experience while visiting the area.